Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake Recipe

Ah, olive oil cakes. Moist, dense, satisfying olive oil cakes. In particular this blood orange olive oil cake recipe. Given how full of character they are—sweet, mellow, unctuous character— they’ve proven to be immensely popular here at Leite’s Culinaria. The fruity notes of olive oil tend to take particularly well to the lilt of citrus, evidenced by the number of readers who’ve told me they love our orange-olive oil cake. When I discovered our newest podcast victim, veteran cookbook author, food writer, and recipe developer Melissa Clark, had a blood orange olive oil cake in her book In the Kitchen With a Good Appetite, I had to have it on the site. Melissa generously adapted hers especially for you, our dear readers.–David Leite

LC Orange You Glad I Said...Note

We know what you’re about to ask. The answer is yep, you can use regular oranges in this recipe in place of the sweetly tart, scarlet-hued squat little specimens known as blood oranges that are, maddeningly, available only during winter. Cara Caras also work quite nicely. That said, if you can get your hands on blood oranges, do yourself a favor and try them in this cake.

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 1 H, 20 M
  • Serves 8 to 10


  • 3 blood oranges
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking pan
  • Honey Blood Orange Compote, for serving (recipe follows)
  • Whipped Cream, for serving, optional


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176° C). Oil a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
  • 2. Grate the zest from 2 of the blood oranges and place it in a bowl. Dump in the sugar and, using your fingertips, rub the ingredients together until the sugar is evenly flecked with the zest and the smell is irresistible.
  • 3. Supreme two oranges: Lop off the bottom and top so a bit of the fruit is exposed and the orange can stand upright on a cutting board. Starting at the top, cut away the peel and white pith with the tip of your knife, following the curve of the fruit. Slice down one side of a section and the other, using your knife to wiggle the fruit out, releasing it from the membranes and letting it fall into a bowl. Repeat with the rest of the sections and do the same to the second orange. Break up the segments with your fingers.
  • 4. Halve the remaining orange and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup. You’ll have about 1/4 cup. Add enough sour cream to the juice until you have 2/3 cup of liquid. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the zested sugar and whisk well. Then plop in the eggs and whisk until incorporated.
  • 5. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Switch to a spatula and fold in the oil a little at a time. Fold in the orange segments. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
  • 6. Bake the cake for about 55 minutes, until it is golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan and onto the wire rack, right-side up, and cool to room temperature. Serve with whipped cream and Honey-Blood Orange Compote, if desired.

Honey-Blood Orange Compote

  • Supreme 3 more blood oranges according to the directions above. Drizzle in 1 to 2 teaspoons honey. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir gently.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Elsa M. Jacobson

Mar 07, 2011

I had blood oranges and then found this cake recipe and it was love from the first read-through. “Dump in the sugar,” “lop off the bottom,” “wiggle the fruit out,” ”plop in the eggs"—the vocabulary set me up to enjoy the baking process AND the cake. The cake is dense and rich. The blood orange flecks sparkle like rubies. The cake can be sliced thin for dessert, for tea, even for breakfast. Though it's rich, it's not a very sweet cake, and that suits me perfectly. The recipe directions are clear and easy to follow. I baked my cake for a full hour because my knife did not come out quite clean at the 55-minute mark. It was hard to wait for it to cool to room temperature, but when I cut the first slice, it was beautiful and held together perfectly. I'd made a honey and blood orange compote while waiting for the cake to cool. When the cake was close to room temperature, I cut a thin slice off the end of the loaf. I placed the slice on a small plate and the compote in a bowl. I meant to place one serving of the compote on the plate with the slice of cake, but instead began to taste test my cake. The combination was irresistible—and I in no way heard this cake calling out for whipped cream. And as much as I love the cake, I at least equally loved the compote—I ate the entire batch of compote with my slice of cake. My blood oranges were little and I was concerned about the juice yield, but I got nearly the 1/4 cup expected from this orange. I had never supreme’d an orange, but I have found my new calling—I could do this for hours on end, especially with such an impressive end result. I could have broken up the orange segments even more with my fingers, to give more distribution of the fruit in the cake. And, yes, you could use another type of orange in this recipe, although nothing will ever be prettier than the blood orange. I was uncertain about the quality of the blood oranges I was purchasing and so I also purchased a bag of Cara Cara oranges, which were advertised as being pink on the inside. They were not truly pink, but they were a lovely shade that was not the bright orange of a traditional navel orange, and they were not too sweet. I ended up using the blood oranges, because they were fine, albeit, as previously mentioned, somewhat small. Looking at orange varieties led me to wonder about other citrus and/or a combination of other citrus, such as ruby red grapefruits or Meyer lemons, for example, both of which would distinguish themselves, I think, in this cake with a unique and not too sweet flavor as well as a unique color that would stand out against the yellow of the olive oil cake. While different from the blood orange, either a grapefruit or a lemon could still be quite beautiful and help to extend the window for making this winning cake from the all-too-short blood orange season to something closer to year round.

  1. K C says:

    Using segments in the cake sounds interesting, compared to the orange-olive oil recipe. I’ll give it a try.

  2. Kate says:

    This sounds delicious. Love citrusy cakes. Especially since I’m just about to give up chocolate for lent. It’s going on my list. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Judith Peres says:

    This sounds insanely wonderful and colorful. And, as its Leite’s orange-olive oil cousin before it, destined for my loaf pan. Thank you!

    • David Leite says:

      Judith, can you take a picture of your loafed cake when you make it? I’m curious as to what it looks like.

  4. Linda says:

    This is a beautiful cake. I have made it several times. Served with blood orange sorbet or meyer lemon granita or sorbet, or blood orange, cara cara compote, or with caramelized oranges, blood or cara cara.
    Just lovely!

  5. Vee says:

    Thought I’d let you know that Queen Creek Olive Mill in AZ makes a blood orange olive oil. They also make a chocolate olive oil! Their site lists a multitude of recipes, including several delicious cakes. I am nuts for the Double Chocolate Chocolate Cake. Give it a try!

  6. jason says:

    could i replace the sour cream with greek style yogurt

  7. jason says:

    the color on this loaf was really nice, and it rose really beautifully above the pan. i cut down the down because i always find i need to for recipes i find online, but this one didn’t turn out too sweet–next time i’ll add closer to the full cup when supreming my orange. i got a lot of juice in the bowl–i think this made the end result a bit too wet. next time i’ll just use the segments and add the juice to the 1/4cup step

  8. Neera says:

    David, what is the best way to store this cake so it lasts 4 days? Plastic wrap? Plastic and foil? Thanks!

  9. Okroncke says:

    How much juice is in 3 oranges? I could not find whole blood oranges but found some fresh juice at BJ’s Thank you, -O

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Okroncke, the yield will vary slightly but typically you can expect 1/4 cup juice from a blood orange, so 3 blood oranges would yield 3/4 cup. Happy baking!

  10. Kendall says:

    Lovely cake, moist, with a nice crumb. I thought batter looked alarmingly oily when I put all the olive oil in, and kept double-checking the recipe, but not at all oily to eat. It’s definitely not too sweet–could easily work as tea cake or breakfast loaf (true, I’ll eat cookies for breakfast if they’re there). So for a dinner dessert the whipped cream and compote seem essential. The honey and orange (I used cara cara, having run out of blood oranges) is a fantastic combo…would be great on pound or chocolate cakes too!

    • Julie Dreyfoos says:

      So glad you enjoyed this cake Kendall. So curious what is your favorite type of cookie to eat for breakfast?

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